February 14th, 2010
08:57 AM ET

Dear President Obama #391: Dr. Tom's guide to a happy love life

Reporter's Note: The President seems like a reasonably romantic sort. I am too. For example, I’m not wasting a lot of time on my daily letter to the White House, because we’ve got a nice fire burning and my wife is waiting for me to join her for Planet of the Apes. How’s that for romance, eh?

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

On this Valentine’s Day with love in the air (which beats snowflakes, let me tell you) I’ll be the first to admit there are many things about relationships which puzzle me. I don’t know why some couples who seem the most unlikely pairings harmonize like barbershop quartets, while sometimes “perfect couples” can crash and burn like tests car on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

I don’t know why a guy with the TV clicker is “annoying,” while a woman is “discerning.” I don’t understand why seat-down trumps seat-up; after all, the second is more convenient for me. I can’t explain why my wife, an otherwise intelligent, and refined soul, ever wasted even one date on me, let alone what sort of early-onset dementia led her to accept a proposal of marriage. (For the longest time, I assumed she had lost some sort of bet…) But I have developed a few guidelines for successful relationships, and considering how busy you are “running the free world,” I thought they might prove helpful keeping your personal life in order as well.

Give gifts on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day of course, but give gifts at other times too. A kindness is always more lovely and appreciated when it is unexpected. As a rule, guys like anything that plugs into a wall; gals do not. (And…uh…don’t call them gals.) If you don’t know the difference between a “personal” gift and one that is not…learn. It’s important.